Learning from Loss

In 1976, when I was in elementary school, my teacher taught us about elections by having some of the students “run for office.” Of course, we weren’t running for any real political office, but the idea was to make campaign posters, have a debate, and let the class vote on who won. I ran for senator and thought I would be a shoe-in. Of the two people running, I was the one known to be the “smart kid.” I remember making some great posters with great slogans. In the end, I lost that election and I was devastated.

One of my friends came up and presented a hard truth to me. This friend did like me, but couldn’t vote for me because the other kid talked a lot more in the debate. I pointed out that the other kid made promises they couldn’t keep. My friend noted they actually said they would do something while it wasn’t clear I would do anything. Looking back, I realize that part of why I failed on that occasion was my own introverted personality. I wasn’t comfortable speaking to groups, so I didn’t say everything that was on my mind. More to the point, I learned to cope with the loss and move on. I didn’t get bitter. I didn’t say the other kid cheated. I knew I’d lost fair and square and I learned what I would need to do should I ever choose to run for a real elected position.

Losing is a powerful, albeit painful teacher. Whether one loses an election, a sporting event, or a competition of any sort, you can learn from the experience and do better. In fact, it’s such a great teacher that I’m hesitant to trust anyone who tries to tell me they never lost and that they succeed at absolutely everything they ever attempted. What’s more, the older they get without losing, the more I worry because I know the first real loss they face will be all the more difficult.

In the 1990s, I started reading through A. Bertram Chandler’s space opera series about John Grimes. Growing up as a Star Trek fan, I really enjoyed these books. John Grimes was a character much like Captain Kirk. As I read, I came to the novel The Big Black Mark, which is a novel about Grimes screwing up big time. He actually gets booted out of the service and has to find a new career. At that point, Grimes suddenly became a much more interesting character to me than Captain Kirk and it was precisely because he lost and had to learn from his mistakes and become better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a Star Trek fan, but I find Grimes’s journey a bit more interesting.

I took this to heart when I wrote my Space Pirates’ Legacy series. The Pirates of Sufiro is about Ellison Firebrandt coping with losing his life of being a successful pirate. In the next book, Children of the Old Stars, his grandson makes a blunder when attempting to communicate with an alien race invading the galaxy and must start his quest all over again outside the military. I wrote these books when I was young and I hadn’t experienced as many losses as I have at this point in my life. One reason I’m revising them for new editions is that I’m better able to tap into the emotions that go with loss and moving on in new ways.

In the end, losing an election or a competition doesn’t make you a “loser.” It’s how you cope with the loss that demonstrates your true nature. I hope you’ll join Ellison Firebrandt and John Mark Ellis on their journey’s of loss and redemption. You can learn more about the Space Pirates’ Legacy series by visiting: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#pirate_legacy

Monsoon Season

It’s monsoon season here in the southwest, and fortunately this year we’re getting much needed rain both at home in Las Cruces and at Kitt Peak National Observatory. During monsoon season, the clouds typically roll in around four or five o’clock in the afternoon, then rain. Sometimes they disburse and sometimes linger into the morning hours. Either way, the warm temperatures and cloudy skies make it tempting to spend a lot of time where it’s dry, enjoying the air conditioning and reading a good book. One place I like to discover good books is at science fiction conventions and I spent last weekend at Bubonicon in Albuquerque.

Bubonicon Dealer's Table

The photo shows me at the Hadrosaur Productions table in the dealer’s room. In addition to dealing, I was on several panels. Two that were closely related to my steampunk writing were “Sci-Fi and Southwestern Fiction” moderated by Walter Jon Williams and “The Weird Weird West” moderated by John Maddox Roberts. One highlight of the first panel was discovering that Laura J. Mixon had family connected to the Roswell Incident. As it turns out, my undergraduate advisor, an atmospheric physicist named C.B. Moore claimed to be responsible for the Roswell Incident, saying it was a nuclear sensing balloon that got away from him. Both panels touched on Tombstone, Arizona along with the technology that has long been present in the Southwest. For example, Nikola Tesla had his lab in Colorado Springs. What’s more, railroads and mining companies brought a lot of technology into the southwest.

During the convention, I had the opportunity to read from my novels Lightning Wolves and Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. Speaking of which, if you’re looking for something to read as summer wanes into fall, I’m giving away a copy of Dragon’s Fall over at The Scarlet Order Web Journal, but you need to hurry if you’d like to enter. I stop taking entries on the afternoon of Sunday, August 10. By the way, this lovely graphic for Dragon’s Fall was created by Sharlene Martin Moore. If you’re an author and would like her to create one for you, visit http://graphicsbysharlene.wix.com/graphicsbysharlene.

Dragons Fall Card 2

As for my own reading, I’m wrapping up the submission period for Tales of the Talisman Magazine. We’ll be closing to all submissions at midnight Mountain Daylight Time on August 15. Please note, I have a short list full of outstanding stories. Thanks to those who have submitted. If you haven’t heard back from me yet, I’m hoping to have answers to you by the end of August.

Vampires, Ghosts, and a Contest

Today, I’m excited to announce the release of my newest novel, Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order published by Lachesis Publishing.

Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order tells the story of how three different vampires came together to form an elite team of vampire mercenaries. Visit http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#dragons_fall to learn more about the book and find places to order.

What’s more, we’re holding a contest to celebrate the novel’s release. To get the details and read an exclusive excerpt from the novel, visit: http://authorjessicafrost.blogspot.ca/2012/10/david-lee-summers-dragons-fall-rise-of.html. Note, you must be at least 18 years old to visit the site and enter the contest.

I have to work on release day, but you can still celebrate with me on Twitter. Because I work nights, you’ll find me on after around 6pm Mountain Time. I’ll be available all night. Just drop a tweet to @davidleesummers or #ScarletOrder and help me celebrate the release of the new novel.

Ghosts at the Hotel Gadsden

Last weekend, I attended a book signing at the historic Hotel Gadsden in Douglas, Arizona. The hotel has long been rumored to be haunted. People have reported seeing floating apparitions, having personal items moved in the night, and more. In fact, during the weekend, my friend Gini Koch reported having a frightening encounter where she felt a spirit had pinned her to the bed.

Even I had an interesting encounter. My wife was on the hotel’s mezzanine and snapped the following two photos back to back. Notice the large, hovering orb in front of me in the first photo.

Now, admittedly, orbs are controversial even among firm believers in the paranormal. They often turn out to be dust grains or other bits of fluff illuminated by the camera flash. Moreover, I’m a skeptic and I don’t claim this is proof of a paranormal event. Even so, what’s odd about this is that no orbs showed up in any other photos we took at the hotel. Also, I’m struck by the sheer size of the orb in the first photo. If it’s just an optical phenomenon, it’s an interesting one.

More Vampire Fun

Make sure to stop by Emily Guido’s blog starting this Friday to learn more about Dragon’s Fall and several other great vampire titles. Her blog is at: http://emilyguido.com.

Speculative Poetry Contest

This weekend, I’m packing up copies of the 2012 Rhysling Anthology to send out to members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association so they can vote for the best long and short speculative poems written in 2011. You can learn more about the Science Fiction Poetry Association at: http://www.sfpoetry.com/

Also this weekend, The Science Fiction Poetry Association announces its 2012 speculative poetry contest. Speculative poetry encompasses science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry. Deadline September 15, 2012.

There is no entry fee, and the contest is open to non-members, with $50 prizes and publication to the winners in 3 length divisions, and an additional $50 prize to the best poem by a non-member. Winners also receive a year’s membership in SFPA and member publications.

The complete guidelines for the 2012 SFPA contest are posted at http://www.sfpoetry.com/contests.html